Doc Ch. 11bykingkey©
I awoke the next morning feeling just so warm and snuggly with the twins cuddled up on either side of me. I felt like just staying in bed with my two lovelies, but the call of nature was too strong and if I didn't get up we were going to have a wet bed. That unpleasant thought forced me to move. I untangled myself from the twins and made my way to the outhouse.
Damn! It was cold out here this morning! As I shivered in the early morning chill, I wondered, 'if this was only July, what would it be like come winter?' This was one thing I'd have to do something about, because I did not relish the idea of using smelly, tippy, chamber pots all winter. And, I certainly did not look forward to freezing my butt on a drafty, frosty privy seat with the frigid South Dakota wind blowing up my ass.
I knew that in this time, some of the more well-to-do homes in some of the bigger cities had inside privies. Maybe we could order something from the Montgomery Ward catalog? Hmmm... even if we could just get or manufacture a toilet seat, I thought I could rig up a chemical toilet. I had a couple five gallon buckets in the camper...
Regardless, I figured I could come up with something that kept delicate skin off frozen boards without a lot of stink. And, I just knew that regardless of their cultural beginnings, the women folk would quickly adapt and be VERY appreciative of such a thoughtful amenity...
When I finished my morning ritual, I went back in to wake the girls so we could all go to breakfast with the rest of the family, but everyone was already stirring. While I waited for them to get ready, I noticed that Dawn kept glancing at me with a shy smile.
I thought, 'Oh no, I guess we were too noisy again. I'll have to tell the girls that we need to be quieter in our lovemaking.' So, as I kissed and hugged my sweeties good morning, I quietly mentioned, "I think we made too much noise last night – we need to try to be quieter" I nodded my head in her direction. "Dawn looks embarrassed this morning."
Instead of smiling or blushing in embarrassment, Running Deer became very serious as she observed, "She's not embarrassed – she wants the same. She's been a widow for too long. Maybe you should make her your wife too, and Standing Bear needs a father anyway." As she spoke, Little Doe was nodding in agreement.
Taken aback, I dissembled, trying to collect my thoughts. "I'll think about it. I just married the two of you and I don't think I need any more wives. Won't you be jealous of another wife?"
My sweeties were absolute dolls, and Dawn, as well as being a good worker, was very likeable, and more importantly for this discussion, was VERY attractive – any man would be proud to have the raven-haired beauty in his bed. I sure didn't want the green-eyed monster rearing its ugly head just because I acted rashly – something I had a bit of a reputation for, it seemed, and based on recent events, it was deserved.
The twins looked at me like a child who was slow with his lessons. You know – the schoolmarm annoyed-but-patient one... Running Deer sounded almost exasperated. "Not be jealous! Much status! Man should have as many wives as he can provide for and who can give him lots of children to help him. Big family! Family VERY important to Sioux people!"
Talk about your culture shock! This was sure different from my time, where women were so insecure in their relationships they would kill you if you even brought up the subject of another woman. To suggest adding another to the relationship... well... let's just say it would be a slow and painful death. Here and now, at least with these two, they not only seemed comfortable with the thought of introducing another woman into the relationship – it was THEIR idea!
We were just about to the main house, so I pulled my two close and told them, "I said I would think about it. Now give me some time to get used to the idea. We will talk later, and we should talk to Dawn, too. I don't know for sure what she wants – just what you two say she wants."
As I reached for the door to let us in, Deer and Doe looked at each other then at Dawn, who had been standing by the doorstep waiting for us to catch up, and together, mouthed, "Later..." With me temporarily off the hook, we went in to meet the family and eat.
Before we sat down to breakfast with the rest of the family, I introduced the girls, Dawn, and Standing Bear to the family. Rose, who seemed to be the family spokesman (I DO NOT buy into that PC feminist crap! 'Spokesman' was good enough for hundreds of years. It's still good enough...) for the family, said "We've known the twins all their lives but it is good to meet you, too, Dawn and Standing Bear. Welcome to the family, everyone."
All my kin greeted the girls and Dawn with smiles and hugs. Bear got handshakes from the men and hugs from the women. The poor kid just about died of embarrassment at all the open affection and attention from the women.
Over a huge country breakfast, we discussed what we were going to do today. Grandpa said, "We should go into town today. I need to go to the courthouse and see Judge Mitchell about those leases. We also need to tell him about those murdered miners we found and how it was made to look like Indians done it.
"And you, Clay, have a bunch of things you should do. Among others, you should let people know there is a new doctor in the area. You may want to bring your bag with you just in case you get some business while we're there. If he's around, maybe you should make the Marshal's acquaintance, too, and offer him your services as a deputy. I haven't met the new man yet, but I hear he's a fair hand. Also, you might want to get a few things for your new wives while we're there." That last got smiles from ALL the women. When I allowed as that was a good idea, the smiles got even bigger.
After breakfast, we got ready to go to town. Ed, Don and Larry were going to stay and continue to get things ready on the ranch for Red Cloud's camp to move in. All the ladies wanted to go with us (some things are the same in all time periods, like women and shopping...). When the boys found out we were heading to town, they wanted to come too, which prompted me to ask if there was going to be enough room for all of us.
Grandpa explained, "Most of us will ride our horses, but Sally and the baby will ride up front with me in the wagon. The wagon is too uncomfortable for most. Only the driver's seat is on springs, so nobody likes riding in the back, but we'll throw in some hay and a blanket for the two youngest boys, Davy and Jake, to ride back there."
I didn't really need Grandpa's explanation. If I'd been thinking half-way straight, I'd have remembered about farm wagons because we still had some around the ranch when I was growing up. However, it got me thinking if there was a way to make my truck into a wagon. It would take a lot of work. I'd made utility trailers out of old pickups before, but without the tools I had the use of then, it would be much more work. Here and now all I had was the toolbox I carried in the truck. The only cutting tools I had in it were some chisels and a hacksaw with only a few blades for it. I also had a cordless drill, but no way of charging it, so it wasn't going to be a lot of help. This was going to take much thought, and if I did it at all, it was going to be a lot of work
After we saddled up and hitched the wagon, we mounted up as Grandpa had described. Once we were all moving, I motioned to Grandpa and we dropped behind a bit. I checked that we were out of ear-shot of everyone else and asked Grandpa, "What about money? I don't have any from this time."
Grandpa looked thoughtful, then said, "That could be a problem, but I still got the money that the army sent with Clay's belongings. It was to cover three months' back pay. That's rightfully yours – almost $150. When we get to town, I'll give it to you. If you need any more, I'll loan it to you, but you are probably going to be doing some doctoring while we're there, so you will be making a little anyhow. We should figure out a way you can be in each of the local towns a couple of days a month. Hill City, Silver City, and Deadwood are all close. Deadwood's the farthest from the ranch, a little under 10 miles."
The thought of traveling from town to town as a doctor made me think more seriously about using my truck – or at least parts of it – as a wagon. Maybe I could also use my camper as a mobile house between the towns, so I didn't have to travel so much back and forth.
The rest were still ahead of us and everyone was so busy talking and carrying on with their neighbor that they probably couldn't hear us anyway. Regardless, I kept Grandpa back a bit because I still wanted to talk with him in confidence. Then I told him about the twins thinking, no – insisting – that I should also take Dawn as my wife and of course therefore making Standing Bear my Son.
Grandpa took a few seconds to answer, and I appreciated the thoughtfulness of his reply, which included some very reasonable caveats: "Dawn's not much older than you – maybe a year or two. Two Knives was actually her stepson. Her first husband, his father, was killed in a hunting accident. She's still a real looker and would make a fine wife." I nodded and grinned enthusiastically, much to his amusement.
"Dawn is a proud woman. I have no idea how she might feel about it, though. You'll just have to ask her if you decide it's not such a bad idea. However, I think you should consider this: Standing Bear is a good boy (I nodded agreement.) but he really needs a father and a good role model now that his big brother is gone. Two Knives might have been stupid as far as the twins were concerned, but he was good to his little brother. Poor Standing Bear is having a hard time now, since his brother shamed the family honor. To the Lakota, that was the act of a coward."
I had been thinking about this a bit, and I wasn't so sure. I thought he acted more foolishly angry than cowardly. "He was no coward – just crazy from his desire for Little Doe. When he saw how things were between us, he probably thought that if he killed me, then as the winner, the twins would be his. And... he wanted Little Doe so much he was not willing to lose. To him, there were no other options. He wasn't my enemy – he was just a contender for the girls who got lost in his frustration and it cost him."
Grandpa gave me a look filled with affection and pride as he said, "You're right, and it puts Two Knives in a lot better light for the rest of his family. You need to tell Standing Bear what you just told me. I know it's only been a couple days since it happened, but I can see that he is already a troubled young man over it. He really looked up to his older brother before all this, and now he looks up to you, too. It will make it a lot easier for him to accept his brother's actions and start holding his own head up if you tell him you don't think his brother was a coward."
As we rode, I continued to watch the family as they rode or drove ahead of us. I assured Grandpa I'd take his suggestion and I had some more questions. "That's a good idea Uncle Henry. If it will help make him feel better about himself, I'll talk to him and explain what I think. Now, back to Dawn, what do you think about me taking her for a wife also? I like her a lot, and I agree about Bear, but I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around the idea. Where and when I come from, the women would try to kill me if I even suggested such a thing. Here and now, they not only seem happy about it, they're the ones actually making the suggestion."
Grandpa tried to hide his grin at my discomfort and confusion, but his tone was serious when he told me, "Don't forget – they were raised in a different society than the white man. Most white women now would act like the ones where you come from, although with the Mormons in the country, a lot of people are adopting to their ways even if they don't take the religion.
"As for the Sioux and many other tribes, although most men only take one wife, it is not uncommon for a man to have more. The people think it's OK as long as he can provide for them. Sitting Bull is actually typical, as he has only ever had one wife and is devoted to her. Often, a man ends up with more than one wife for just the same reason you may take Dawn – her man is killed and another takes her into his family to provide for her and raise her kids. It will only happen though if his existing wife (or wives) says it's OK – if they don't, then it's a deal breaker. Jealousy isn't just for white folks, y'know...
"Remember, with the Sioux, kin, or otakuye, is everything. What we think of as a village or local tribe is actually one large, extended family, or tiyospe. That's why Red Cloud didn't make any fuss when I suggested the village, except for those braves leading the army away, stay with us on the ranch. Remember I said they were family? Well, through Dove, they are my family, and by extension, yours. And now, you have made it even more so by marrying the twins and adding Dawn and Bear, which brings me back to it. Yes, I think it would be a good idea, and not just for you, but for everyone."
"Well, if it's such a good idea, why didn't you take more than one then?" I asked, although I suspected he'd already hinted at the reason he was monogamous.
"Didn't need more than one. Besides, Dove would kill me. Remember, I said jealousy isn't exclusive to the whites." He smirked
"Yet you think I need a whole house full. Why?" I asked
Grandpa chuckled, "Your case starts out special because of the twins. They came as a package deal. They're already used to sharing with each other, so it's easy for them to share with another woman. Because they think that way, they consider it a real status symbol. So they actually want you to take Dawn as a wife and in the doing, adopt Bear. It doesn't hurt either, that those three have always been close friends.
"But I have my own very selfish reason for wanting it: I need as many kids around the place as possible – keeps me young, and with you having three wives, I think you'll be making lots of little ones for me. Besides, after I spoil them, I can send them home to you." Then he started laughing like hell at me.
Seems the idea of 'grandparents' revenge' is not a concept peculiar to my time... "Thanks a lot. You keep up that cackling, we'll have to check to see if you laid an egg." I grumbled as I pulled a face, which only made him laugh harder.
After that I just rode quietly, listening to the women chat with each other, getting better acquainted. I figured if I said anything else in the next little while it would just set Grandpa off laughing at me again. After awhile, when he had settled down and I had cooled off, I asked him what the plan was when we did get to town.
He said, "First, we'll drop the women and the boys off at the general store. The women know what supplies we need at home, and can shop very well without us looking over their shoulders. Standing Bear and the other boys can keep each other company and do the stepping and fetching for the women while you and I go to the court house and talk to Judge Mitchell.
"When we're finished talking with the Judge, I want to go over to the assay office and discuss an idea I have that might help Red Cloud's people. And, while we're about it, we'll introduce you to all the people along the way and maybe stop at a couple of the larger saloons to let people know we have a doctor in the area. Once people know who you are, you should be able to make some money."
It wasn't much longer before town came into sight and then we were there. We headed straight for the General Store, where we parked the wagon and tied up our mounts. Before the women headed into the store, Grandpa handed me the cash he said was mine, and I promptly handed most of it over to the ladies, less a few bucks for my own use.
I told them to get whatever they needed, but also to be careful, as it was all we had for now. The twins and Dawn weren't very familiar with money, but Grandma Dove was, and assured me she would look out for them. She appropriated the cash herself and promised that she would make it stretch. As Grandpa and I headed off toward the courthouse, we told the boys to stay with the women to help with the lifting, and also to keep an eye out for any trouble.
We were in the court house talking with the Judge when Jake ran in, yelling for us to come quick. As we rushed out of the courthouse, we could hear yelling coming from the direction of the store. When we got closer, I saw a crowd of people standing around, but they were blocking the view so we couldn't see what was actually going on. When we managed to push our way to the front, I saw a half-drunk miner was holding Dawn by the arm, trying to drag her into a dark alley. However, Standing Bear was blocking the way, his knife out and threatening. Half his face was turning black and blue and one eye looked to be close to swelling shut – he had obviously been struck very hard in the face.
I quickly drew my cross-draw pistol and put a round between the drunk's feet. I shouted, "WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON HERE!"
The crowd, like any in a Western town at the time, quickly drew back at the sound of gunfire, mindful of what could happen to bystanders when there was gunplay. Startled by the noise and the impact of the bullet tearing up the boardwalk between his boots, the miner released his grip on Dawn then slurred drunkenly, "I was just going to get a little of this squaw, and that Injun kid got in my way so I swatted him."
I couldn't help but think that not only was this idiot drunk, but be was also incredibly stupid, when he couldn't or wouldn't recognize a son trying to defend his mother. Then I realized that he was also a typical-for the-times anti-Indian bigot, who thought he could do whatever he pleased with an Indian woman with no consequences. That realization only made me angrier than I already was.
My eyes narrowed and I fixed him with a frigid stare. In a deadly cold voice that should have frozen Hell, I told the dumbass, "That lady is my wife and that boy is her son. You touch either of them again and I'll kill you where you stand, understand? Hell, I'd just as soon shoot you right now, or let my boy at you with his knife, but if you lived over it, then I'd just have to patch you back up."
The drunk backed away from the immediate threat of my drawn weapon and Bear's still purposefully waving knife as he offered, "Don't want no trouble, Mister, you c'n have her – I'll just take one of these other squaws then."
The drunken fool still didn't get it. He thought I was just keeping Dawn for myself, but the other women were still fair game to his bigoted lust. Sorely tempted to put the sorry excuse for a man down anyway, I deliberately pointed my gun at him. "No, you won't be taking any women against their will today." I indicated Running Deer, Little Doe, and Dove. "Those two are also my wives and that one is my aunt, and this here is my uncle, her husband. Touch any of them, and you're a dead man."
Now even surlier at being thwarted in his unwanted attentions toward the ladies, the fool lurched threateningly toward me. "What are you, a Mormon or something? It ain't right you having three women all to yerself, and the rest of us having none."
Becoming increasingly annoyed with this idiot as he got too close, I warned him, "One more step, and I'll shoot."
The fool looked around and waved his arm to indicate several other men in the crowd, some of whom moved toward the front, and bragged, "You can't shoot us all!"
I smiled menacingly, "That may be, but you'll never know, because you'll be the first to die."